Plastic packaging in France: Adieu pour toujours, almost

To reduce plastic waste, from January 2022 on, France will ban plastic packaging for a large number of fruits and vegetables. The French government estimates that currently 37 % of fresh fruit and vegetables are packed in plastic.

The following fruits and vegetables will be sold without plastic packaging:

  • Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, clementines, kiwis, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, plums, melons, pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, persimmons (except ripe fruits).
  • Leeks, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, round tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, parsnips, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes, root vegetables, potatoes, carrots, onions and early turnips.

Exceptions will be vegetables and fruits sold in lots of over 1,5 kg and ripe fruits picked at maturity like currants, blueberries and raspberries.

According to the government, as a result of the ban, they expect a reduction of useless plastic packaging by 1 billion per year.

Plastic-free program

France’s plastic ban is not a one-time measure but part of a long-term plan to further remove plastic from everyday life in France.
In August 2021 the French Government implemented a Climate and Resilience Law. By 2030, with this law, the aim is that 20% of medium and large products are sold in bulk.

  • 2021: plastic straws, cups, cutlery and styrofoam takeaway boxes were banned.
  • 2022: The distribution of plastic toys with meals will be banned, water fountains must be provided at public spaces to reduce the use of plastic bottles, press and publicity publications must be shipped without plastic wrapping.
  • 2023, January: (Fast-food) restaurants are required to use reusable dishes for meals and drinks served on site.
  • 2023, June: Cherry tomatoes, green beans and peaches must not be packed in plastic anymore.
  • 2024: Ban of plastic packaging for asparagus, endives, mushrooms, cherries, salads and herbs cherries.
  • 2026: Berries such as raspberries and strawberries must be sold without plastic.

The program is also being criticized: fruit sellers complain that there is not enough time to switch to paper packaging, environmentalists say the measures are too weak.

As France will ban more and more plastic packaging, it is worth to take a look at the situation in the rest of the world: 77 countries have at least partly banned plastic bags. Like the rest of the European Union, Austria is trying to solve the problem of plastic waste within the framework of the Single-Use Plastics Directive. Among other things, since July 3, 2021, plastic straws, plastic plates, disposable cutlery, fast-food packaging and polystyrene food containers are not to be sold any more in the EU.

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